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Column: Heroin claims daddy's little princess

Written by Mike Argento/York Daily News | Dec 22, 2015 10:12 AM
Ashley-Krebs.jpg

Ashley Morgan (Jacobs) Krebs. June 9, 1990-Dec. 12, 2015.(Photo: Submitted)

Ashley Krebs had been saved from an OD once, and when she stumbled again, it took her life.

(Undated) -- Ashley Morgan Krebs always was and always will be daddy's little princess.

She was always so full of life, her father, Tim Jacobs, said. Almost from the day she was born, she was mischievous and fearless. She had an attitude - sassy is how her aunt described her. She had a luminous smile that could light up a room, they said.

One Halloween, when she was little, her parents dressed her up as a pumpkin. She hated it. Why a pumpkin? she asked. Pumpkins are ugly. She wanted to be a princess. In a photo from that Halloween, she stood for the camera, wearing the pumpkin costume and an expression that reflected her displeasure - an expression her aunt described as staring a hole clean through you.

She loved spending time with her Pap and Nana. She would fall asleep lying on her Pap's chest, and he wouldn't move until she woke. Her Nana would tell her she was her favorite granddaughter. And she would reply, "Nana, I'm your only granddaughter."

She grew up with brothers, and she could keep up with them too. She loved going fishing with them and her father. But she was also a princess. She loved to shop. She would go shopping with her grandmother, taking her debit card and saying, "Let's go the mall and use it until it declines."

At her birthday parties, she always opened up her gifts before she was supposed to. On Easter, she would scoop up the plastic, candy-filled eggs and stuff the candy in her mouth. Her aunt once told her she can't eat all of the candy. She said, "Dad said I could."

She went with her family once to play laser tag. She couldn't do it. She was afraid of the dark.

When she was in middle school in West York, her father once got a letter informing him that Ashley had been late for school something like 30 times. He asked her about it, and she told him that she simply didn't have enough time to do her hair in the morning and make it to school on time.

She was a smart kid. Grades weren't an issue. Being on time was, as was not paying attention in class. Once, she was painting her nails in class, and when the teacher asked her to stop, she said she couldn't until she was done or it would look weird.

She never could hold her tongue, her father said. She had no filter. It was one of the things, her father said, that made her special. And he thinks maybe it was one of the things, one aspect of her personality, that led to her end.

She got her act together at River Rock Academy, an alternative school in Spring Grove for disruptive and troubled students. Her father recalled she did a 100 percent turn-around. She had studied cosmetology and got a job and held onto it for 10 months.

She married Ian Krebs - her maiden name was Jacobs - and had a child, a son named Kade. Kade was her joy. No matter how bad things were - and they could get pretty awful - spending time with Kade made her happy, her family said. Holding him just lit her up, they said. She was very nurturing toward Kade. If only, her aunt said, she could have been more nurturing of herself.

Those awful times came frequently, an effect of her struggle with addiction, something she fought since she was a teenager. Heroin turned out to be her drug of choice, and it was powerful, more powerful than her strength, more powerful, it seemed, than the love of her family and her son.

She had periods when she would get clean, a few months sometimes, but she always stumbled.

She stumbled back in June, and it looked like she might not be able to get up. She had overdosed and a couple of her so-called friends tried to dump her in a convenience store parking lot on Richland Avenue.

John Armentrout, a recovering addict himself, just happened to be passing by and went to her aid, saving her life. Armentrout hoped that would be it for her, that she would see that her addiction had but one outcome, death, and that she would get well.

Her aunt visited her in the hospital. Ashley was scared, probably the most terrified her aunt had ever seen her. Her aunt said, "I just need to hear from you that this is enough." She began crying, and through her tears, said, "I don't know."

She went to rehab and then to a sober house. She got a job at Roburrito's in West York. She spent time with her son.

She seemed to be getting her life together. It appeared everything was OK. She told her father that she just wanted to start being happy again.

They found her body on Dec. 12. She overdosed while living in the sober house. (Ironically, that same morning, a local group was distributing the life-saving OD antidote Naloxone to operators of recovery and sober houses.)

She was 25.

Her father said he hoped she didn't die in vain. "If anything comes from her death," he said, "if she could help others struggling with addiction, she would smile."

At her funeral, her family, her friends, all professed their love for Ashley. Their love, one of them said, just couldn't save her.

One of the pastors, weeping, said, "She's now free of her demons. She is free."

She sobbed.

"It doesn't seem fair," she said.

As she spoke, a photo of Ashley was projected on the wall next to the altar. She was a little girl. She was smiling. She was dressed as a princess.


This article comes to us through a partnership between York Daily Record and WITF.

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